So after 6 months of graduating and a fruitless job-hunt, my big break finally came in mid-September. I got offered a position in the graduate program of the biggest mining company in the world. My contract would initally be for three years, and would include rotations in several of the major marketing hubs for the company, namely Singapore and The Hague, with smaller offices scattered around Asia, Europe, and the Americas. My first rotation was to be in Singapore, and I got really excited because I have travelled extensively through the Americas and Europe, but I had never been to Asia before. This was a wonderful opportunity both for my professional and personal development. My e-tinerary came in late October and indicated I would fly AA
Business from MIA
and continue on BA
Club World from LHR
. I would also be riding on the 777 for the first time!
20:10 Oct 31st 2006
09:45 Nov 1st 2006
This report will not contain pictures. However, I will try to detail the trip as much as possible to make up for the lack of them. Furthermore, I will admit that I am embarrassed to take pictures of the whole flying experience. It just looks too amateurish, but kudos to those who don't care! Anyway, on to the report...
I left my parent's place in Broward County quite early, considering I had to drop off my car at the dealership where I was to sell it. It was quite emotional seeing my car being taken away from me. We had just been together for over a year, and I wasn't looking forward to going back to riding the bus and the subway. Call it an American thing (although it isn't!), but cars are not only convenient in the sense they take you from one place to the other, but you have your personal space, your choice of music, and you don't have to stand around a bus stop waiting for it to arrive.
In any case, I got to MIA
around 6pm and proceeded to buy a lock for one of my suitcases. With the new rules after what happened (or better, what didn't happen) in London on August 10th, I was only allowed a carry-on with dimensions of up to 56cm. My roll-on-board clearly exceeded this. I then proceeded to the First/Business class check-in counter. Being MIA
, it was quite crowded, mostly with Argentinian passengers headed to EZE
. I gave my paperwork to the CSA, who took longer than usual to give me tickets for both legs. Good thing is he attached some OW
priority tags on my luggage, so at least I knew they would be coming out the carrousel quickly.
Having about an hour to spare before boarding time, I went with family and friends to the Top of the Port snack bar. It's a nice, open eatery with a pool and a track surrounding it. Unfortunately, it's still closed for repairs, and it has been like this for years now! Anybody know why? In any case, we ended up at the food court by the Bacardi Bar and had some light snacks. 19:25 came by pretty quick, and since I had the SSSS printed on my card, I knew I'd have to get to the TSA
Once at the TSA
checkpoint, I didn't even ask for a fast-track line for premium passengers, since I knew I would have to go through the GE
air-blowing machine. The extra check was painless, and I was on my way to gate A10. I did get a chance to go to the Admirals Club, although my stay there was not long. Since Concourse A is one of the recently renovated areas, the Admirals Club is very nice, especially compared to some of the older ones at JFK
that I've been to. Nice seating areas as well, although I still can't get over the fact that you get one complimentary drink and have to pay for the rest. This is truly unacceptable. For a ticket that cost over 5 grand, I would expect free drinks all around. My choice was Orangina, and although they (obviously!) did not have any, the bar girl kindly mixed some OJ and sparkling water and got the mix pretty right! A quick check of the email to see if my Godmother was still meeting me for lunch in London, and it was off to gate A 10 where boarding was well underway.
We boarded through 2L, between the galley that separates First class and Business class. I was very excited to fly on the 777. Most of my trips have been on the 744, and I do love the Queen of the Skies. But I had heard about the comfort and quiet of the 777 cabin, and I was looking forward to experiencing it. I quickly found my seat, 13G, stored my stuff, and said hello to my seat mate for the next 8/9 hours.
One of the F/A's immediately came over and offered me a drink, but no news paper. It's just one of those things that I don't really like about flying US airlines internationally. I would've chosen BA
all the way, but then I wouldn't have gotten the AAdvantage miles b/w the MIA
sector. Oh well. The captain came on and told us we would be leaving the gate shortly. As we pushed back, I started chatting with my seat mate, who worked in the pharmaceutical industry. We actually chatted for quite a while, when I noticed we were already on the runway reaching rotation! The stupid guy had not bothered to open any of the three windows he had at his disposal. I really don't get those people who request a window and end up never opening it.
Menus were soon distributed, and the choices were quite good, esp for an American airline. The choice was an appetizer of warm nuts (Satay, or maybe a prawn salad would've been much classier), along with a salad and choice of beef, chicken, crab cakes, and ravioli. As my seat mate took his whole order at once, he told me about certain sleeping pills he took and how he would be waking up feeling like a million dollars. He gave me a pack of two, for me to take on this flight. I accepted them, then later went to the toilet and dispossed of them. I'm not a little kid anymore, but I never take candy from strangers. At this time, the crew also distributed the Bose QC2 headphones. I was eager to use them, as the cabin was already quite quiet compared to other a/c, so the headphones would make for a good night's sleep.
I opted for the ravioli, which were filled with meat, and came along with some tortellini filled with ricotta cheese. It was actually a VERY large portion, even for restaurant standards. I guess AA
uses quantity to make up for quality. They were not at all bad though, and did get me quite full. This was accompanied by an Australian Shiraz, which was quite good.
Dessert was a really good chocolate ice cream, and this was followed by the coffee service.
IFE consisted of about 8 channels of a selection of movies and variety shows, ie. CBS Eye on American (which I think is really, really bad programming). I ended up watching half of Click, which I found mildly amusing. I didn't find anything else of my liking, so I decided to really make use of the Bose QC2s. I plugged them in to my iPod, reclined the seat, and went straight to sleep. I must say I did manage to get a good 4/5 hours of sleep, which is quite amazing 'cause usually I cannot sleep on a plane, even if it's in Business. AA
's business seats do not recline fully, but they're still comfortable. I wonder if/when they will install the new business class seats on the 777. You would imagine they would work on those before the 767s. Oh well. Nonetheless, I found that the older style, grey leather seats were much more comfortable. You can still find those in selected A300 cabins. The seats currently on the 777 are much comparable to those in Premier Class on Aer Lingus' A330s.
As I woke up to the smell of breakfast, I went to the toilet to get some water on my face and get a little refreshed. When I came back it was time to sit down for breakfast. A cheese omelet and a croissant would do today, along with two cups of coffee.
About 30 mins after breakfast was served, the captain came on annoucing our descent into London. The descent and approach was actually quite quick, and I don't recall being put on a holding pattern, as it is so usual at LHR
. We made our way through central London, getting some nice views of the famous landmarks, and lined up with rwy 27R. After touching down, we stopped smack in the middle of the taxiway next to an AC
A330. The captain told us that we were early and had to wait for a bird to vacate the gate. Well, the anticipated 5 minute wait ended up in a 35 minute wait, and the suspect turned out to be a VS
A346. Soon after we got rolling behind an SQ
744 and were parked at Terminal 3.
As we deplaned, I noticed there were immigration officers standing at the end of the jetway. The only explanation I could find for this was that as the flight originated in Miami, there were probably many people connecting from Latin America, and of course, sadly they always are suspects at airports, not unlike the Arabs. Funny enough, I was pulled aside for interrogation. Just a few questions about where I came from, where I was heading to, what was the purpose of the trip, and whether or not I would be spending time in central London. Questioning done, I ventured to search for the American Airlines' arrival lounge. Now, on the American Way mag it appeared to be within the gate area, next to gate 20-something. As I couldn't find it, I decided to make my way to immigration with the idea of taking a shower already vanishing in my head. But good for me, I discovered the lounge is past
immigration and the greeting area. As I imagine the bulk of AA
flights from the US gets to London very early, 10am seemed like the perfect time to go to the arrivals lounge. Just as I expected, I was the only person in the lounge. I got the keys to one of the bigger shower rooms and quite enjoyed the refreshing shower. A few cups of coffee to be fully awake, some pastries, and a quick check on the email to confirm the location of my lunch meeting with my Godmother. By 11am I was boarding the Heathrow Express and 15 mins later I was at Paddington station getting on the tube to Victoria.
Next leg follows in the next post.
If you've read this far, please read part two that follows and leave a comment in order to improve my TR
[Edited 2006-11-11 14:47:29]